Why I face disciplinary action for criticising London Regional Organiser Steve Terry who scabbed on Stan Keable
Two weeks ago I was called to an investigation hearing. A complaint had been made against me regarding criticism I had made in various articles of UNISON’s London Region Organiser, Steve Terry, a right-wing Labour Councillor in Walthamstow. The articles are below:
Stan Keable - Suspended for Expressing his Opinion on Zionism - Welcome to Stephen Cowan's Thought Police in Hammersmith & Fulham Council
|Unison sells itself more as an insurance company than a trade union|
|BBC 'journalist' David Grossman, with the ethics of a rattle snake|
|Tony Jones - one of my two investigators|
|Gail Adams, the second of my investigators, receiving a CBE from Prince William|
As Jodie Ginsberg in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the murder of a Danish filmmaker by jihadists,
the right to free speech means nothing without the right to offend. If all you have the right to do is to utter platitudes then free speech is meaningless.
Of course Terry was unconcerned by issues such as free speech. This overpaid and useless official considers that the members are accountable to him. It was therefore not surprising that Terry, who is not used to criticism from members, made a complaint via his superior, the London Regional Secretary against me.
|The racist Zionist demonstration whose counterdemonstration Stan joined|
On June 4th I was called to an investigation hearing conducted by 2 more officials, Gail Adams and Tony Jones from the southern region. Ms Adams is Head of Unison’s Professional Services Unit and Tony Jones is Regional Manager for the South-East and as Tony revealed during the course of the interview is himself a Labour councillor in Reading! Most of the interview was conducted by Tony Jones, who was jovial and pleasant. Gail Adams was mostly silent but her hostility was evidenced by her body language and general demeanour. Clearly the idea of criticising a fellow official didn’t go down well.
You can read the whole interview here or you can listen to the tape of the interview here. Amongst the ‘highlights of the interview was my statement, in a letter to the Head of UNISON’s Executive Office, Beth Bickerstaffe, that the Inquiry could only be a ‘stitch-up.’ Tony Jones was offended by this description so I had to point out that this was not intended personally. Rather it was the fact that I was the person who was subject to a complaint rather than Terry, for his refusal to defend a member under attack and his incompetence in failing to have any grasp of basic employment or human rights, to say nothing of his refusal to get a legal opinion. On any objective basis Terry should be suspended on charges of gross misconduct as a prelude to his dismissal. But of course to Ms Bickerstaffe, daughter-in-law of former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe, it is me who is guilty of the ‘crime’ of criticising a full-time official.
What my case demonstrates is the democratic deficit in UNISON. Despite supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership elections in 2015 and 2016 (despite rumours that Dave Prentis would withdraw his support) UNISON is not a left-wing union. In the past 8 years, at a time of massive cuts in local government, it has abysmally failed to take any action against those attacks on members’ jobs and conditions or pay. When there was action a few years ago and strikes over pensions the union leadership did their best to get the action called off by pretending that they had secured concessions. Prentis is well-known for his lack of backbone.
Despite the fact that UNISON has good policy on Palestine and supports BDS (albeit doing very little to implement it) it has also supported the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against supporters of Palestine. I spoke on the motion in 2007 and again 2008 at national conference when policy on BDS was first proposed. The arguments of the Zionists were basically that those supporting BDS were supporters of Hamas and anti-Semitic! Rodney Bickerstaffe, when he spoke at a PSC AGM attacked the use of false accusations of anti-Semitism against supporters of Palestine. People are well aware of how Zionists weaponise ‘anti-Semitism’ but today they remain silent.
That is what the actions of Terry are about. He is a fulsome supporter of the idea that support for the Palestinians is ‘anti-Semitic’ and in particular criticism of Zionism, the ideology of the movement that dispossessed the Palestinians. That is why Stan has been abandoned and that is why I am subject to a bogus ‘investigation’ that can only conclude that I am guilty as charged, even though charges have yet to be laid.